The Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
Tampa is like a smaller version of Los Angeles. It covers a vast urban and suburban sprawl. The concept of a “city” with gridded street patterns and centralization doesn’t fit any description of this town. That makes it difficult to choose a hotel since traffic is a force to be contended with, and your business destination could be in an area of the city where hotel options are limited or not so desirable.
I choose the Grand Hyatt (not to be confused with the Hyatt Regency downtown) when I travel to Tampa because it offers the quality of life standard that has become so important to me considering the number of days I spend traveling. The rooms are very “Floridian” with palm designs and textured wicker accents in neutral Hemingway colors.
The room selections are numerous and unique, so I would recommend booking rooms online so that you can view the options and tailor your choice of accomdoations to your trip’s needs. The standard rooms are very nice, but if you don’t pay the extra money (generally about $20 more per night) you will likely have a view inland toward the airport and Raymond James Stadium where the Buccaneers and (my alma mater) the USF Bulls play their football games. The bay view rooms are worth the upgrade if the extra cost is in your budget.
Also, there is quite a selection of suites available on this property. The photo gallery featured online gives a wonderful video tour. The suites do not regularly appear online when booking. Therefore, call to reserve the Executive, VIP, or Deluxe suites.
The standard rooms and suites are located in the main building of the Grand Hyatt. However, this hotel has very unique guestrooms located about 200 yards away from the main lobby. These guestrooms are called “casitas” or “little houses” with their own pool area and situated next to one of best and well known restaurants in Tampa called Oystercatchers.
Getting to the casitas from the main building is a real treat. Out the back door of the main building towards the pool, you will find a quaint boardwalk that winds back around the property through the wetlands. On the way you can see all sorts of beautiful Floridia wildlife such as Roseate Spoonbills and Great Blue Herons wading in the waters surrounding the property. The boardwalk ends on the road to the casitas.
The Hyatt offers a variety of different casitas. The basic layout is like a standard hotel room in the main building, but it's a free-standing small house with a patio. It generally runs about $30 more per night than a standard room. There are also casita suites available. The casita-area is adorned with a beautiful koi pond which gives it an out-of-the-way feeling.
In the same area of the property as the casitas, you will find one of the best and well-known restaurants in Tampa, especially amongst us locals who love a great brunch. Oystercatchers is a spectacular place for drinks, lunch, dinner and the best Sunday brunch in town. The menu specializes in seafood, but there are beef, chicken, and lamb selections as well. Oystercatchers caters to the casual and dressy guest, it is very Florida-comfortable.
Alternative dining options are comparable to the quality of Oystercatchers. The most upscale restaurant at the Grand Hyatt is Armani’s which offers a terrific view of the bay and an elegant Italian menu with a very nice wine selection. If you are more likely to enjoy a burger and fries, Petey Brown’s and the lobby bar will suit you.
After great food and long hours, the gym at the Grand Hyatt is a sight for sore eyes, and limbs. It is sizeable and full of equipment. The lady's (and I would assume the men’s) locker rooms and facilities are parallel to those of a spa. In fact, there are massage services located in the gym as well as a spa and whirlpool. The Hyatt also offers in-room pay per view yoga sessions on your television if relaxation is your answer to a long day or invigorating morning.
I have not personally tested the meeting facility services at the Grand Hyatt, however, I can attest to the spaces provided. For a mixture or meetings and social gatherings, there is a patio featured outside the meeting and ballroom areas that is surrounded by ornate columns with views of the water and pool. This hotel also offers an “E-Concierge” which can be used online with a valid confirmation number for your stay.
This hotel is where a local like me chooses to stay when she goes home on business. Need I say more?
Photo Credit: Chris Kelly, Tampa, FL 2008
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